the Deal-Breaker

I just found your blog and you're both awesome men to help us women. I love reading your thoughtful and insightful answers. I hope you'll have time to help me.

QUESTION: I have been seeing a man for four years off and on when we are both in town. He was persistent and approached me a few times to ask me out but I waited several months before I finally agreed to go out with him. Neither of us wanted to get into a relationship because both of our jobs keep us traveling a lot and we are way too busy to settle down. (He works in government intelligence). We were both interested in a sexual relationship and nothing more. The sex has always been great and he is a very giving lover.
On more than one occasion he told me I was his only lover and that he was addicted to me. He also made it known that he did not want me seeing other men (although I never requested he only see me). Later, unfortunately, I started having feelings for him and I told him this. He told me couldn't help but have feelings for me but then a few months later said he that he didn't know how he felt. We continued seeing each other sexually until recently when I again told him I was in love with him.

Now he says we can no longer have sex together but that he still wants to be friends. I have reassured him I don't want a commitment but he says it's not fair for me if we continue seeing each other. Now I wish I hadn't told him how I feel because I really miss him and the sex. I've told him I don't want a commitment so what could he be worried about? (by the way, I'm in my late 40's, have already had children, and he also has grown children from his first marriage). He knows I'm independent and has always been attracted to that.

What is the problem - I've only told him I have feelings for him - I don't expect reciprocation of those feelings. So why does he want distance now? Also, another thing that has bugged me recently. I caught him in a lie and although I didn't make a big deal of it - he became very offended and denied it. Although I had proof, I let it slide because it was such a small thing. I only found it interesting that he became very upset and denied lying about such a petty thing. It seemed very important to him that I not think he was a liar.

I've felt loved by this man in action if not in words but still it is pretty strange that I have been intimate with a man for four years and still do not know him very well. I hope you can give me some objective insight. Is he serious about being just friends or was he trying to find a nice way to break up and move on? Does he really have any interest in ever seeing me again? He is very reserved - a man of very few words so it's difficult to figure him out. How do I handle this? Are there signs I should look for that would suggest I should pursue this any further or should I leave him alone? I'm heartbroken, I really miss him, and I want him back in my life.

Thank you for your help.

GARLAND: Thanks for your question.

I hate to say it, but I think the "Let's be friends" is a prelude to the breakup.

What you all have had - to most men, and probably your beau in question also, is a long term friends with benefits situation... great sex, random dates, no strings, no morning after phone calls, just sex for the sake of pleasure.

Then you caught feelings. You said, you 'loved him' - oh, I'm sorry... you said you "are IN LOVE with him," which is even scarier to most guys doing the FWB thing. No matter what you say in your question to us and no matter what you say to him, when a man hears "I'm in love with you," he KNOWS that you will want a relationship VERY soon. Sure, you can say that you don't want one, you can write it down, you can tattoo it on your forehead but we will always believe and know that eventually you will want a relationship. And, it's not that you don't DESERVE a relationship... I'm not saying "relationship" like its a dirty word! It is simply... how can I put it?

It is a CARDINAL CHANGE in the terms and conditions of your FWB situation. It is a change in the scope of an agreement, a change that is equal to a breach of contract.

If this guy hasn't pushed towards a formal, monogamous relationship in four years - then he most likely isn't going to. You've dropped the "L-Bomb" on him and there's a good chance he's gone for good.

This is where men and women's differences come to the surface - you thought it was harmless to tell him you were in love, and quite frankly, those are the last words a guy in an FWB situation wants to hear. Sure, it sounds pretty shallow from a man's perspective, but this guy knows his limits and his limits are "hot sex with you once every blue moon" that's it, he doesn't want to date and he doesn't want your love, he just wants your sex. I hate to sound so blunt, but don't bank a lot on the whole "lets be friends thing" - he's ready to leave the roost.

CHUCK: S..., may I call you S? Garland's got this one pegged. I don't know for sure who devised this whole FWB concept, but I'd bet you a paycheck it was a man. Because these relationships play more to what men stereotypically want (hot sex, no strings, hot sex, little commitment, hot sex, limited cash outlay, hot sex) and less to what women stereotypically want (emotional connections, commitment, a planned future). Now I'm not saying that there are women who do not crave some of the same things men do. Not at all. But there are women like yourself, S, that enter into an FWB relationship and want more than it offers.

It's not your fault. Even despite the agreed-upon boundaries of your relationship, emotions are not something that can be regulated or controlled. But after four years of happy, uncommitted bliss, telling your friend "I love you," was effectively breaking your deal. By confessing your feelings, you made clear to him that, regardless of your assurances, you would not be content with your relationship as it's played out thus far.

All of the indications I get here suggest that you should leave him alone. He doesn't want to be in a love relationship with you. What I find unfortunate is that he is not being fully honest with you, either. That little lie you caught him in was probably just the tip of the iceberg. And he had such a strong reaction to being busted because he was feeling guilty. I can only speculate as to what he's keeping from you (another woman). And because of the casualness of your friendship, you're not even allowed to be angry about being lied to, or having information hidden from you.

I know it doesn't feel like it now, because you're without the friendship and the sex, but he did do you a favor. He could not return your feelings, and rather than string you along, he let you know it. I'm sorry things didn't work out for you. You've learned something about yourself, though. Before you consider entering into a relationship like this again, you'll probably give it more consideration, because you know that, for you, love and sex aren't that easy to separate.


TJ said...

Great advice. I'll bet a guy came up with the FWB concept, too. The woman he pitched it to should have said hell naw, though. LOLOL.

Chuck and Garland said...



Too bad he couldn't have patented the idea... he'd be a zillionaire!